STONEHAM, Maine – Do you like “The Giver”? Ever wanted to sit down and chat with her Newbery Medal-winning author, Lois Lowry, and ask her how she gets her ideas and what she’s working on next? Now is your chance.
Lowry is one of 14 authors from Maine who donate their time for the “Talk to ME” auction to support the Susan L. Curtis Foundation, which offers programs for underprivileged youth in Maine, including stays at Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham (see related article).
The auction runs until August 13 at charityauction.bid/TalktoME.
Lowry, who has a summer home in Bridgton, Maine, has offered to host up to 10 friends or book club members via a 1-hour Zoom session where she will share things like what inspired her to start writing, where her ideas come from and who her favorite characters and authors are.
Other authors offer similar packages, with bids starting at $ 300. Most are for a 45-minute to an hour-long Zoom conversation, although two items are face-to-face and several include writing tips.
Lowry has won numerous awards for his young adult novels, which in addition to “The Giver” include “Number the Stars”. Both won the Newbery Medal and “The Giver” was made into a major film.
Although marketed to young readers, his stories also appeal to a much wider audience.
The online auction features several other writers who will be familiar to local readers. Lily King, author of “Euphoria” and Monica Wood, who wrote “One in a Million Boy,” both had their novels chosen by local libraries for the One Valley Big Annual One Valley Read.
Wood, who was born in Mexico City, Maine, to a family of Irish Catholic factory workers, is also the author of the bestselling memoir “When We Were the Kennedys” and books such as “Ernie’s Ark”.
She offers a Zoom session to nine people to talk about “books, reading, life”.
Caitlin Shetterly was a featured writer on the Cold River radio show, a local Theater in the Wood variety show hosted by Jonathan Sarty, speaking about her book “Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future “.
This book co-won the Maine Literary Award for Best Nonfiction of 2017 and was named one of “Best Books of 2016” by Publishers Weekly.
She is also a strong supporter of Camp Susan Curtis and hosted the online auction while donating her time and cooking skills.
She will contribute two freshly made, organic and gluten-free quiches and a salad from her garden for the winner to organize her own brunch or dinner.
She will also include signed copies of her books, “Modified” and “Made for You and Me,” and will visit for an hour outside with the winner and his guests.
Shetterly’s connection to the camp spans her youth, when she worked there one summer as a junior counselor, and she has written about the positive effect of the camp on the children as well as on herself.
“Their sensitivity, open-mindedness and ability to talk about their issues transformed my life,” she said in an interview with The Sun last week.
She is happy to talk about the French language of pandemic home schooling, the science of elvers and algebra, the environment, novel writing and non-fiction with the winner of the auction and its guests.
Author Kerri Arsenault is also willing to travel (within reason, she says) to New England to cook dinner for six, talk books, and sign and provide six copies of her much-loved book “Mill Town” to the winning bidder and guests.
“Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize and won the 2021 Maine Literary Award, is a memoir of Arsenault’s return to a small town in Maine.
Lowry and author Bruce Coffin (who will also be speaking in person at the Stone Mountain Arts Center for next week’s author’s dinner) have attended An Evening with Maine Authors events in previous years.
If you’re a detective novel fan, Coffin and Paul Doiron spent time in private conversations about their work – with up to 10 people – exploring characters from their detective series, both located in Maine.
Novelist Christina Baker Kline has donated a 45-minute Zoom Book Club session where she will answer any questions about her three recent bestselling novels – “The Exiles”, “A Piece of the World” and ” Orphan Train “. She is also happy to talk about “creativity, writing, research, her favorite books or whatever comes up”.
Help is also available to writers, whether they are aspiring novelists or children wishing to enter university.
King and fellow novelist Susan Conley offer a two-hour multi-genre group workshop in which participants will work on openings (to short stories, novels or memoirs). The authors promise to unbox the craft involved in the openings and will ask people to try and write new openings based on the prompts they offer.
King’s “Euphoria” has been described as “atmospheric and sensual… an intellectually stimulating tour de force” and his latest work “Writers and Lovers” as “proof that literature doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be absolutely convincing. “.
Conley is the author of five critically acclaimed books, including his bestselling new novel “Landslide” – an editor’s choice of the New York Times.
“Unknown Caller” novelist and professor at Colby College, Debra Spark, offered to read your high school student’s essay and offer suggestions for improvement.
On the website announcing the event, Spark said, “I will read your high school student’s essay and offer suggestions for improvement. a meeting to just brainstorm ideas, I will too! Don’t worry if your child is only first grade! If you bid on this fantastic offer, you will have 20 years to use it. Today is my 59th birthday, However, so watch out for the buyer! That is, check the actuarial tables for women in Maine before you bid! ”
Meredith Hall, whose New York Times bestseller “No Map” memoir, offered to read your fiction or non-fiction work of up to 20 pages, double-spaced. She will provide the writer with a three to five page written response, then set up a conference call of up to one hour to discuss that article or a larger project.
Novelist Eleanor Morse has vowed to spend an hour in a Zoom session with an emerging writer to discuss the craft and practice.
Morse, who lived for a number of years in Botswana in the 1970s and now lives on a small island off the coast of Maine, wrote novels set in both locations, including “White Dog Fell from the Sky “,” An Unexpected Forest “and the recent” Margreete’s Harbor, “a literary novel set on the coast of Maine in the 1960s.
Kate Christensen will name a character after the winning bidder, or someone she chooses, in her current novel.
Christensen is the author of seven novels, including “The Great Man,” which won the 2008 PEN / Faulkner Prize for Fiction, and, most recently, “The Last Cruise,” as well as two food-focused memoirs, ” Blue Plate Special ”and“ How to Cook a Moose, ”which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir.
Or maybe you would like to talk about the news. A 45-minute Zoom with up to 10 people with seasoned journalist Colin Woodard is also up for auction.
Woodard is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist and is currently a national and national affairs editor for the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram. He has reported in over 50 foreign countries and seven continents and has lived for over four years in Eastern Europe.
His books include “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America”, “American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good” and Union: The Struggle to Form the Story of the United Nation state.
You might want to build some muscle before having a thoughtful conversation with him.
The auction ends August 13. All funds raised will go to Camp Susan Curtis. For more information on authors and auction options, visit charityauction.bid/TalktoME.